Friday, January 25, 2019
Duties of Foreigners and Resident Aliens
As for the foreigner or the resident alien, it is his duty to attend strictly to his own concerns, not to pry into other people's business, and under no condition to meddle in the politics of a country not his own.Andrew R. Dyck, A Commentary on Cicero, De Officiis (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), p. 299 (discussing this passage):
peregrini autem atque incolae officium est nihil praeter suum negotium agere, nihil de alio anquirere minimeque esse in aliena re publica curiosum.
Those engaged in politics were held to be πολυπράγμονες (Arist. EN 1142a2); even an Athenian citizen was well advised to keep clear of that predicate (cf. Lys. 24.24; Isoc. 15.99 and 230 wards off the charge that his students and fellow sophists are πολυπράγμονες). Foreign residents, who could by definition play no political role, are here advised to avoid πολυπραγμοσύνη and keep a low profile, presumably since they are easy targets in troubled times (cf. Lys. 12.6; ad 3.47). Pl. Lg. 952d1 stipulates the death penalty for a foreign visitor ἐάν γ᾿ ἐν δικαστηρίῳ ἁλῷ πολυπραγμονῶν τι περὶ τὴν παιδείαν καὶ τοὺς νόμους.Dyck's reference to Plato, Laws 952d is somewhat misleading—Plato isn't referring to a "foreign visitor" to his ideal city but rather to a citizen who returns home after travel abroad, having imbibed dangerous foreign ideas.